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You don’t have to be mad to buy a folly, but it helps

Part 1

By Heather Houlie

[Part2 | Part3]

Like many who have grown up in Cornwall I moved away on leaving school to try my hand in the real world, i.e. get a job/ career.
This has the advantage of a regular wage and eventual buying power, and the distinct disadvantage of returning to ever increasing property values This is a little frustrating to say the least, my career was not up to sustaining a second or holiday home in the region.
It was with interest one night the local news featured an unusual property in an upcoming auction, it was a folly on the North cliffs of Cornwall in my home village. I had left the village over 20 yrs ago, I had no contact with any one there, people had died and friends had moved away in a similar manner to myself.
The following day I drove down to see this little gem with a guide price of £20,000 and the auction only weeks away. To be honest I was not sitting on that sort of money and half hoped I would not feel any real interest in the property. I was wrong, I fell completely under the spell of this land locked dilapidated gem. The view was possibly the best view in the North of Cornwall, the atmosphere peaceful and yet inspiring. This was back in the days when banks did lend money, but , would they really assist me on this?
I was surprised at the enthusiasm of my bank manager, He assured me , yes I could have a greatly extended overdraft , I had set a limit which he told me would never be enough and I was to phone him on his mobile to extend the limit, even as the auction progressed.
Setting off for the auction which was in Dorset it was with mixed feelings I set off, I was excited, I might actually secure this piece of utopia with it’s own set of problems and responsibilities. I expected to be devastated on seeing another get what I truly wanted. I kept mentally upping my limit as I drove to the venue.

I had no idea of legal packs or such like, so just sat down to wait for my ‘ lot’, ensuring I was strategically placed to ensure the auctioneer saw my hand raise.
The first few lots of the auction seemed slow and I was now dreading the folly coming up, I had already been out bid in my head. Beach huts were reaching astronomical amounts £160,000 for one in Dorset and seemingly useless pieces of ground were changing hands for more than I would earn in 3- 4 yrs. As my lot came up I sat purposely on my hands resisting the urge to start waving in a demented fashion. As the auctioneer fished for the first bid there was no movement in the room he dropped from £20,000 finally reaching £10,000. I had that sudden intrusive thought ‘ if no one else wants it, why do I?’ yes, the first bid came in at £10,000, nothing else happened, so attempting to act cool my hand raised at £12,000, now it was just a cursory nod in the auctioneers direction My heart wasn’t just beating , it was pounding with such a velocity I thought it needed it’s own noise abatement order . Eventually we were at £20,000, now expecting to go to £27,000 or another bidder to come in there was no movement in the room and the long awaited going once, twice, three times and the gavel was down it was mine.
I sat there stunned and turned to the person closest to me and said ‘ got it’. There was one more lot to go whilst I sat there trying to take in that it was going to be mine. The auction finished as I stood up to sort out paper work I was congratulated from every angle, still stunned I made my way over to the desks for the formality, cheque book in hand. When I am nervous, I have the ability to act in a confident manner and I maintained this until I was asked who my solicitor was , I said the first firm I could think of and made my way outside to phone and text everyone I could think of.
I don’t know whether I flew or drove home that night, reaching home long after dark and finally released of driving responsibilities I prepared to open champagne and make more excited phone calls. I was slightly deflated that they already knew as it had been all over the local TV stations.

I was a little ashamed the next morning when I phoned the firm of solicitors I had named at the 11th hour to be coldly told that they had already heard from the vendors solicitors having had no instruction from me, they were a little cold and formal but agreed to undertake the conveyance for me. I was surprised when they called back asking if this was the ‘ one all over the news?’ There is still a picture on my solicitors wall and her cost were very reasonable.
Press coverage continued and it was claimed untruthfully that I had played in the structure as a child, in truth I suspect it was covered in foliage and I was totally unaware of it’s existence.

[Part2 | Part3]